Thursday, July 7, 2016

Disney Cruise Family Reunion

We just returned from an amazing vacation/reunion aboard the Disney Dream with the Butler family! All 29 of us went, courtesy of Ma & Pa Butler and it was really an unforgettable experience.
The day before the cruise we met up with cousins at Downtown Disney in Orlando.  We saw a movie, enjoyed a boat ride on the lagoon, shopped, and got caught in a torrential downpour.  I'm so thankful I re-thought that white t-shirt I was planning to  wear.

Day 1
We all had different boarding times, based on when we checked in online.  We got on first, because I'm an eager beaver like that.  When you walk on board they introduce your family and I may have gotten a little choked up as the Butler Family was introduced into the Grand Atrium of this beautiful ship.
Nash was a nervous wreck.  He has a boat phobia, so we took him straight to the buffet and he hardly worried again.  What can I say, the food was unbelievable!

In true Atley form, he immediately found a map and memorized the lay-out of the ship.  It is so nice to never have to know where you are, when Atley is around.  
After lunch the kids played the Mickey's Detective Agency scavenger hunt game, which we all regret not having more time to play and explore.
The boys learned how to play LIFE while Scott watched some soccer as we waited for the arrival of our cousins and the mandatory evacuation drill.  Speaking of the evacuation drill, there are steel doors throughout the ship that can be shut to prevent fire or flooding from spreading. As we were finishing our evacuation drill Scott saw a mysterious switch high on the wall that he just couldn't help but touch.  A huge door emerged from the walls separating families and sending people into a panic. I barely grabbed Nash in time to keep him with us.  This is such typical Scott behavior. He once pulled a fire alarm at a parking garage in Salt Lake making my mom and aunt run for their lives.

The view from our balcony enabled the kids to see if our luggage was being loaded.
Soon the ships horn played A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes  and the Sail Away party began.  It was adorable.  
The movement of the boat made me worry I would get sea sick so I immediately took a few too many Dramamine, which made me super sleepy. I was dozing during dinner and fell asleep in the after dinner show which I am certain was awesome. I went back to the cabin to sleep it off, while the rest of the family went to a magic show. I didn't take anymore Dramamine.
Day 2
The next morning we watched the ship port in Nassau while eating a lovely breakfast in the Royal Palace.

  Scott talked me out of making the kids take a historical tour of the city but I wanted them to have a little taste of culture anyway. We compromised on the Straw Market. Harley insisted on getting her hair braided just like a native.

We all enjoyed a fresh chilled coconut, and explored  the narrow streets of the city for a couple of hours before getting back on board our floating paradise.

We enjoyed the spectacular views of Atlantis and the Caribbean as we headed back out to sea.

We took family pictures before dinner and enjoyed another five course meal.  The service was phenomenal.  They catered to every crazy whim our children had and totally took care of their needs while we enjoyed dinner at the adult table each night.  The kids also could not get enough of the Oceaneer's Club, where they did everything from cooking, crafts, video games, cartography and much more.  
Throughout all the busyness of the first two days the kids also managed lots of time out in the pool and consumed their weight in ice cream each day.  They loved riding the Aquaduck around the ship and so did I.  

They also couldn't get enough of the chocolate before bed and the strange creatures that were left for them each night.
Day 3
Today's breakfast was spent outside on the deck watching our approach to Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.  It was adorable!  

This is grandma and Atley enjoying a race down the water slides into the ocean at Castaway Cay.  It was a photo finish but clearly Atley won, grandma! 

One of the highlights of the trip was our snorkeling excursion.  We not only got to hand-feed sting rays but we also got to swim and snorkel with them.  Harley had no problem snorkeling for the first time. In fact, she was just like a little fish. I had trouble paying any attention to the stingrays, for watching her in the water.

Of course, there was more ice cream on the island!

The kids raced crabs, played with Olaf, posed for pictures, splashed in the ocean, and finally collapsed in exhaustion on the splash pad.  
That night was pirate night on the ship. We all changed into our pirate gear and enjoyed an amazing pirate show, dance party and fireworks display on deck.

Did I mention there is also a movie theater on the ship?  We watched Finding Dory, The BFG, and Captain America while sailing.  
Day 4
We spent at sea.  The kids played in the pool. We watched some fantastic shows and played Disney trivia. The kids enjoyed more time in the Oceaneer's Club  and of course, they had more ice cream.  Harley visited the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique and was transformed into a mermaid.  The make-over included face paint.  When her fairy god mother asked what she wanted, Harley politely requested stripes, so she would look like a "warrior mermaid". That's my girl.  We also did some dancing with the Daisy and Donald!

Day 5
After having breakfast together, we all went our separate ways.  There were some more tears shed in our car as we drove away from Port Canaveral.